Tuesday, June 18, 2024

It’s How We Think That Matters Most

You may not agree with my bold title: how we think matters most. Whatever happened to “actions speak louder than words” or “her behavior speaks for itself?”

The, um…wiser I get…the more I’ve moved beyond behavior as the key element of someone’s leadership style. Where do those behaviors come from anyway? Are they not an attribute or symptom of a deeper issue at play?

I submit, yes indeed they are. It is the mind that triggers behavior. 

The way we see the world…that inner voice that speaks to us incessantly…shapes the way we interpret and act upon all of the external impulses that barrage us daily. Shifting how we interpret these messages, and candidly, being open to changing our minds (God forbid!) is a real-life game changer.

Imagine feeling confident enough in yourself that you are open to hearing different points of view, seeking out contrary opinions, and assimilating all of that new information into your head in a thoughtful way?



Impossible? I don’t think so. I’ll offer one quick example. A couple of years ago I decided to stay connected to people who didn’t necessarily share my world view on many topics. I intentionally was trying to stretch my understanding of what people value, even if it didn’t seem to fit with what I knew was really the most important thing. The result? I have a much greater appreciation for why those differing viewpoints matter so much, and why people might embrace those as the most important things to them.

Imagine how this plays out in your organizations? Is everyone so dialed in to the vision / plan / goals  that they haven’t left any room for disruptive thinking or points of view? What might be missed that could be transformational?

Just imagine.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, June 10, 2024

The Importance of Unlearning

I’ve come a long way since moving into my first formal people leadership role at age twenty-seven. I thought I knew a lot…and then quickly learned I didn’t…and then started learning in a different way. I held on tight to the learning I did for the next decade and leveraged it to steadily progress further along.

And then the learning I had done suddenly didn’t seem to fit in every situation. It’s as if someone changed the rules on me when I wasn’t looking. How could that be? I had been laser focused on my leadership style for so long, it couldn’t possibly let me down now, right?

It turns out that my approach to leadership had not necessarily needed to change…the x-factor was that I needed to do some UNlearning.

I had a certain point of view that certainly seemed crystal clear to me; yet, that lens failed me at times when I made certain assumptions about people, dynamics, or systems that didn’t exactly fit the way I had “learned to lead.”

Did my style fit? Yes. Did the way I was actually seeing and understanding some situations need to be reset? Absolutely.



Humility is a powerful thing. For those that never experience it they spend their lives lost is a sea of arrogance and jokes behind their back. For those that eat a slice of humble pie once in a while, well, we appreciate how powerful humility can be for our growth and effectiveness.

UNlearning some of the things I’ve held close for a long time has allowed me to continue to grow as a leader…even as I move to ‘vintage’ status.

Have you considered what you might need to UNlearn in your professional life?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, June 3, 2024

Extending Trust

Do your employees and young leaders need to earn your trust before it is given? Or, is developing leaders done differently through extending trust first?

Trusting first…

…sacrilege!

We have to earn everything in life, right?

A spot on the sports team.

A chance at a promotion.

A place on a high profile new project team.

A measure of respect from colleagues.




That feels like an awful lot of earning that has to happen before we are allowed any opportunities at all. Honestly, I’m not sure that message still resonates.

If I trust you and give you a chance to spread your wings a bit at work…long before the normal “earn-your-way” approach would afford…am I being reckless? 

If you “haven’t had enough time to develop the skills necessary” for certain projects, am I supposed to wait for another year to get you moving?

If I behave like an out-of-touch old-school leader will I be able to attract and retain any young talent to my organization?

Earned first before trust is given doesn’t make sense in every situation anymore.

What do you think?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

It’s Just Myself, Talking to Me, About Myself

I don’t know about you…but the self-talk machine that runs in my head can be…unforgiving, relentless, even brutal at times. Back when I was young and insecure I thought I would be in control of every facet of my personal and professional life by the time I got to this age.

Well…now I’m ‘at that age’ and am still insecure at times…perhaps in a strange way even more so now. Why? Because I actually know things as compared to when I was young and only thought I knew things.

Big difference, right?



Some of the self-doubt is healthy for me. It keeps me grounded…ensures I don’t get too full of myself…and allows me the opportunity to show some grace…to me.

However, too much of a good thing is no good. That’s how it gets for me sometimes. The voice in my head picks up momentum and…off we go down a bunch of rabbit holes.

There’s a silver lining to this story though. Unlike when I was young and didn’t necessarily have the coping skills to effectively deal with that imposter inside me; I’m now equipped with not only a mature perspective, but mature tools as well. 

Understanding the power of faith in my life
Leaning into my men’s group for support
Reaching out to friends who ‘get me’
Having someone very special in my life who supports me

…and candidly looking back and realizing that despite the stress, anxiety, pressure and self-doubt, I’ve navigated life pretty well so far.

You have too. Don’t forget.

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, May 20, 2024

Handle Hard Better

This is probably old news to most of you…but I saw a story a couple of months back about the Duke women’s basketball coach, Kara Lawson, and her impromptu powerful message to her team during a routine practice.

She talked to them about how to handle hard better. I love that phrase. Three simple words with a punch.

Handle.

Hard.

Better.

This is particularly timely for me as I’m going through a fairly stormy phase of life. Not asking for sympathy here…I’m focused on the words.

Handle.

Hard.

Better.


What’s going through your mind as you see the words? 
What’s on the list of the difficult things you’re tackling right now? 
What does handle better mean? 
Is there a secret out there that I’ve missed all these years?

If you’re interested in what Coach Lawson had to say in less than three minutes check out the video:


Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Describing the Future: Helping Your Employees Navigate Change

We’ve all said “change is difficult” throughout our careers. Yet why aren’t we getting better at it? Sure, we take a bit more of an inclusive approach these days…but again and again we read the “lessons learned” testimonials of organizations that have struggled.

Perhaps we’re on the right track, but missing one key piece? That piece might bring a greater number of employees into alignment with the leadership team’s vision for what is to come.

I recently attended the Conference Board’s Change Management conference and this theme played out repeatedly.

“If we don’t show our employees the future (or end state, or vision) we will NEVER get the buy in and commitment we need to move things forward with our change projects.”

Our teams will cling to the past…even if it wasn’t good…because they know it.

Our teams will cling to the present…even if it isn’t good…because they know it.

But our teams fear of the future…because it is unknown. 



How are you describing the future to your organization? Is it a big secret that is going to be unveiled at some point? Which, by the way, will send disruptive shockwaves throughout the employee base, even if it’s exciting news.

Remember, “change is difficult.” That applies to all change.

Telling your story…controlling the narrative…and at the very least committing to over-communicating will ensure everyone knows the direction you are headed and why you need to get there.

What approach are you taking?

Thanks for being here.

Jay


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Monday, May 6, 2024

(More) Wounds

Last week was more than I was ready for. It was one of those rare combinations when my professional and personal lives decided to ramp up the intensity simultaneously. I’m not planning on sharing the details here…rather…I’ve been reflecting on what that kind of pressure does to people.

And by people, I mean me.

The emotional rollercoaster I found myself on resulted in a couple of significant reactions. First, I was extraordinarily calm, at least initially. More so than I expected. It proved to be valuable as the twists and turns of the week played out in very serious ways. 

Calm…for me…has become a superpower. 

I’ll clarify here…that calm demeanor on the outside did not match what I was feeling on the inside. I knew though, that I needed to appear calm for all those who were relying on me. That list was (and still is) long.


It’s an odd experience to process in your head…when you feel like everyone is counting on you to come through…and somehow you find the strength to do it. I’m not boasting…I’m sharing how grateful I feel that I received the help I needed to deliver. That help was clearly my faith…because it sure wasn’t me “man-ing up” to be strong. 

New week starts today…same issues…but I’m a bit stronger knowing that not only did I get through last week, but that I’m better prepared for this one.

Thanks for being here.

Jay